My posting has been a bit sporadic lately. This is all due to one thing:
My garden has exploded.
Everyday, she (yes, my garden is a she) presents me with baskets full of tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, yellow squash and zucchini.
You would think that I would be overjoyed at these gifts. After months of seed coaxing, seedling planting, staking, weeding and watering, the fruits of my labor are now on my table... everyday:
But the sad truth is, I can't keep up. I have given away, frozen, canned, eaten, mashed and blanched myself into a dither.
It doesn't help that I also have a habit of visiting every farm stand within a 50 mile radius of my home. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for any locally grown fruit and vegetable. Peaches, blueberries, corn, melons... oh my!
I know the way Mother Nature works though. Just when I'm about to say "uncle".. my garden will stop producing. The road side stands will fill up with apples and pumpkins and then slowly close their doors until next year.
So for now, I hole up in my kitchen, in 95 degree weather and can and freeze and blanche and cook and eat my way through this glorious season of plenty.
Fresh Tomato Sauce Two Ways (one for eating, one for freezing)
4 to 5 ripe tomatoes (I used plum and yellow because that's what I had)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup shredded zucchini (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced (chiffonade)
1/4 cup freshly grated (very small) parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling, salted water until the skins split (about 2 minutes) Remove to a bowl to cool enough to handle.
Working over a large bowl to catch the juices, slip the skins off. Using a small paring knife, dice the tomatoes, throwing away the seeds. Squeeze the tomatoes with your hands to slightly crush.
In a large pot, drizzle in some olive oil and saute the garlic just until fragrant. Add the crushed, diced tomatoes and zucchini* and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer. Add tomato paste, basil, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
This simple sauce is ready to eat right now on some pasta. Leave it chunky and serve hot. Pass crusty bread on the side.
Follow all of the steps above. After simmering, spoon the sauce (in batches) into a blender, puree. Be careful to put a kitchen towel over the top of the blender and hold the lid down. Don't fill it more than 1/3 full. Blend in batches until smooth.
Pack into very clean, hot mason jars, allow to cool, put lids on and freeze. Remember to give your jars at least 3/4 inch head room. The sauce will expand when frozen and you don't want any broken jars in your freezer. You can also let the sauce cool and freeze in ziploc bags or any container you wish.
When you defrost this sauce around January, you will get a taste of summer that will have you browsing seed catalogs all over again.
Anyone out there having the same "problem"? I'd love to hear what you are doing with your excess garden output..
Don't have a garden? Don't forget your local farmers. They work all year to bring you the very best from their fields... why not pick up a bushel of tomatoes and make this sauce? I guarantee come January and February, you'll be glad you did!
* A Cook's Notes: I like to sneak a little zucchini in my sauce. No one will be the wiser, you'll get the extra nutrient kick AND use up some of those squashes that seem to grow overnight!